Getting the flu jab protects everyone
Have you had the jab? I have and I don’t work in a hospital.
I’m talking about the flu injection which I get each year because I want to protect myself against the viral infection and protect others in my family.
If I get influenza, I’m likely to spread it to people who are susceptible near me. And of course the same applies to people in the wider community. They don’t want me spreading my lugubrious bugs.
It seems like a basic, straightforward act of social responsibility. Protect yourself and thereby protect others. Simple. But not according to the Waikato Nurses Union who have complained loudly about feeling ‘‘coerced’’ by the Waikato District Health Board’s directive that all health workers either get the jab or wear a mask.
Coerced? I would have thought that such professionals in the health sector would willingly and eagerly comply with such a directive. More. That they would have taken it upon themselves, of their own volition, given their knowledge and working environment, to not only keep themselves as healthy as possible, but set an example to the general populous.
What’s going on here? Do they know something we don’t? Are the pamphlets in doctor’s waiting rooms up and down the country encouraging people to get the flu jab, bogus?
Or is it that the nurses union and its members are unfamiliar with the political philosopher, Thomas Hobbs, who pointed out some years ago the bleedin’ obvious, that living in a society requires individuals to give assent to certain obligations incumbent on all who live in collectives. He called it the ‘‘social contract’’.
Everything from, shut the door to keep the warmth in, to, don’t commit murder are mandatory duties for those of us who live in groups. Those who don’t comply are called anti-social for a reason. They don’t care about the collective wellbeing of the community.
They are careless, self-centred and think only of their own personal needs and to hell with the unit as a whole. They wish to be free, in this case, to spread their micro-organisms when and wherever they please.
Perhaps the members of the nurse’s union haven’t caught up with the philosopher, Immanuel Kant, who set out the moral parameters of judging right and wrong in what he called the ‘‘categorical imperative’’.
What he meant was, in his own words: ‘‘Act so that you can will that everybody shall follow the principle of your action.’’ In other words, think about what would happen if everyone did it.
You refuse the jab, so everyone refuses and the whole of society suffers. We get a pandemic. Same goes for immunisation against measles, whooping cough, the whole nine yards.
What Kant was saying is that one has to think collectively and consequentially because we live in a society. It wouldn’t matter is we were alone like Robinson Crusoe on a desert island.
We could behave as recklessly as we liked because it wouldn’t impact on anyone else. We wouldn’t have to behave socially responsibly because there would be no ‘‘social’’ in the mix. Inoculation? Forget it. We would be free to cough and spit and splutter and spread our contagion over everything in sight.
If we all get the jab then the likelihood of the disease spreading is diminished and the good of the greatest number, the majority in society, is enhanced. HAVE YOUR SAY Email news and views to nicola.brennan@fairfax media.co.nz